Thomas W. Hodgkinson

NOT a singles holiday

Morzine, France
Daily Mail, January 2019

Can I make one thing absolutely clear? This was not a singles holiday. OK, I was single. And yes, everyone else there was single. And I’ll admit it was a holiday.

But I wasn’t there in the hope of getting lucky. I was there because I love skiing, and hadn’t got around to organising a trip with friends.

That’s the basic service offered by ‘solo-skiing’ specialists The Ski Gathering. They save you the hassle of doing it yourself. They’ll find you a chalet and fill it with other sociable solo-skiers.

You can ski with them if you want, and not if you don’t. You can save money and bunk up with a stranger, or spend more and have a room to yourself. I’d advise bunking up. It’s all part of the experience.

Happily, the traditional pine-wood Chalet Chery where I stayed — just outside Morzine in the Haute Savoie region of France — was crammed with likeable sorts.

On the first day, I hit the slopes with Katie, an unfeasibly fit geography teacher from Aberdeen, determined to cover as much of the ski area as she could. Another morning, I skied with Deborah, a mischievous author from Manchester.

Once or twice, I went out alone, and then snuck back early to luxuriate in the sauna with a rapidly crinkling paperback, before tucking into some of the cakes offered by the chef.

In the evenings, we gathered for dinner and lied about how fast we had descended the notorious black run known as The Wall. There was a broad spectrum of skill in the chalet, ranging from Brian, a cheerful beginner from Guildford, to Sam from Bath with his alpha banter and James Bond styling.

On the chef’s night off, we strolled down to a restaurant called La Flame in the village of Morzine. I ordered a local speciality of beef on a sort of skewer. The waitress doused it in Cognac and set it on fire, nearly singeing the eyebrows of the vegetarian opposite me.

Of course, you cannot always rely on the quality of the snow, but we were fortunate. And what you can rely on is that you’ll be well looked after by The Ski Gathering. But please note: it isn’t a singles holiday.